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How are Los Gatos, California and Aswan, Egypt, alike?

How are Los Gatos, California and Aswan, Egypt, alike?  Los Gatos is situated about 30 minutes from the Pacific Ocean and is part of bustling Silicon Valley.  Aswan is a highly important city with ancient history and significance attached to it.  At first glance, they would not seem to have much in common.  They are not close geographically.  Nor are they similar culturally, religiously, politically.  The cuisine is different.  the art is different. And so is the architecture!  In what way could they possibly be similar?

Los Gatos, California and Aswan, Egypt: what do they have in common?

Both were and are popular for several things.  But one of them is the same!

On page 114 of her book, Los Gatos, Peggy Conaway reports that 

Los Gatos' reputation as a healing place was reinforced when the British Medical Journal, the London Lancet, declared in 1905 that Los Gatos, along with Aswan, Egypt, had "the most equitable climate in the world". For many years, the Lancet quote adorned the masthead of the Los Gatos Mail News.

Here in Los Gatos,  the climate continues to be a prized element of local life.  But back at the turn of the last century, the weather was a draw for health reasons and there were sanitariums for people battling TB, alcoholism and other illnesses.  

Aswan appears to be warm and dry year round, notably warmer than Los Gatos throughout the year. In winter, the average low temperature is 9 - 11 degrees celsius, or 48 - 52 degrees farenheight. In Los Gatos, the average low temperature is 38 - 41 degrees f.  In summer, the average high temps for Aswan run approximately 40-42 c or 104 - 107 f.  In Los Gatos, the average highs in summer are in the 80s, appx 82 - 85 degrees farenheight. Wouldn't it be lovely to have the winters in Aswan and the summers in Los Gatos?

There you have it.  In all the world, the British medical journal singled out Aswan and Los Gatos as the most healthy climates on earth.   By the way, Aswan is a "sister city" with our neighbor to the north, Sonoma.  So I don't see them needing another San Francisco Bay Area sister city.  But when you hear the news about what's going on in Aswan, send up a prayer, think good thoughts and see if there's a way to support the people there.  They have had a lot of struggles recently and it's not nearly over.  As different as our areas are, we are connected in a funny bit of history, climate and health - and of course our common humanity.  I wish them well, and wish them peace.


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Old Town plaque - a reminder of Los Gatos history

Old Town Shopping Center on University Avenue in Los GatosToday the Old Town Shopping Center in Los Gatos is bustling with customers as our Silicon Valley econmy is in recovery. Architecturally, it is quite beautiful, but even so it's easy to forget the historic significance of this charming place.

Since 1968, the University Avenue complex has been home to bookstores, restaurants, shops, offices and sometimes even live entertainment in the little ampitheater in the back. Connected by a pedestrian bridge to Forbes Mill on the other side of Highway 17, it's right in the center of town.

The California Cafe is an upscale restaurant located in Old Town Los Gatos

Prior to that, though, this was an elementary school campus which began in 1881. If you've never had a close look, here's the plaque regarding the University Avenue Elementary School.

Old Town Plaque explaining this site's history as the University Avenue School in Los Gatos beginning in 1881

This is one of the most scenic spots in Los Gatos and a very worthwhile place to visit.

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The Pet Rock: Created in Los Gatos

Date: Jun. 21, 2012
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The care and handling of your PET ROCKDo you remember the Pet Rock?  It was invented in 1975 by Los Gatos resident Gary Dahl.  According to Wikipedia, he sold 1.5 million pet rocks, largely during the Christmas season of 1975,Please continue reading on the new home of Live in Los Gatos

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St. Mary's Church in Los Gatos Prepares to Celebrate its 100th Anniversary

St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception - mission church of the Jesuits in Los Gatos CAIn 2012, St. Mary of the Catholic Church in Los Gatos will be celebrating its 100th anniversary as a parish.  The planning begins now!  Several groups of volunteers are actively figuring out every angle for the centennial festivities.Please continue reading on the new home of Live in Los Gatos

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Shannon Road in Los Gatos: the history behind the name

Shannon Road in east Los Gatos was named after Thomas Shannon, who came west to find his fortune in the great gold rush of 1849. This was just a couple of years after the tragic Donner Party journey,Please continue reading on the new home of Live in Los Gatos

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Historic La Hacienda Inn - Long Term Stays Only Now

La Hacienda Inn, Los Gatos (adjacent also to Monte Sereno and Saratoga, CA)One of the more lovely settings in the Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga areas is that of the beauiful and historic La Hacienda Inn.  Since 2007, the fabulous restaurant there has been closed but the hotel has remained active and the 4.5 acres continue to provide a serene setting that beckons visitors, and until very recently its 20 or so guest rooms accomodated overnight visitors in an unparalleled setting. 

Things are chaging, once again, at La Hacienda:

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the owner of La Hacienda (which is in an unincorporated part of the county surrounded by Monte Sereno) "has been lobbying to be annexed into Monte Sereno so he can build a multi-family senior housing complex".  This has not happened. 

Now, instead, according to the Merc/Los Gatos Weekly-Times, "La Hacienda Inn, 18840 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, has changed its focus from being a hotel to renting its rooms out as apartments."  A visit to the Hacienda's website indicates that this is pretty much the case - the landing page says little except that all stays must be monthlong or more. ("Extended stays.")  No word on whether the units now have kitchenettes etc. (Although not linked to the home page, there are pages still up with photos of the inviting guest rooms.)

The La Hacienda Inn has some interesting history to it.  It used to sit along the "light rail" line that connected Los Gatos and Saratoga (called the Interurban Railway). Completed in 1904  by Mr. & Mrs. Theodore J. Morris and situated on about 30 acres then, it was originally known as the Nippon Mura Inn. In the 1920s it was known as the Los Gatos Lodge (unrelated to the business we know of by that name today) and in the 1940s became known as a great Italian restaurant. A decade later, a separate building was added as a hotel. 

So it is probably fair to say that the history of this lush site is the history of change.  The land has shrunk, the use morphed over the decades, the restaurant come and gone, most of the famous garden either sold off or paved over now. It is a local treasure, more than one hundred years old now.It seems that it should be an historic landmark, but despite some ardent searching, I could not find any such designation. I wish them luck as they turn the page into a new chapter of their history, and I hope that it will be enjoyed for many years to come.

Personal note:

I truly miss the restaurant, which was a great place for elegant dining, particularly Sunday buffet brunches.  I have many fond memories of the place - Jim and I did our rehersal dinner in one of the private rooms there in 1985.  It was definitely a "special occassion" place for us: birthdays, Mother's Day, anniversaries, etc.

Want more info?

You can read about this and two other nearby Japanese style estates and gardens on the Saratoga Historical Foundation's website.

See some old photos at this link.

2001 article from the Saratoga News about the restaurant (now closed)

View some old postcards via the Hooked on Los Gatos site

Contact La Hacienda Inn:

Telephone:   408 354-9230  or Toll Free 800 235-4570

Email: info@lahaciendainn.com

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Fabulous Historic Walking Tour of Downtown Los Gatos is Back! Mark Your Calendars for June 13th & Reserve Your Spot Today!

Los Gatos Historic Walking Tour - a benefit for the Museums of Los Gatos - June 13, 2010A fun, hands-on way to learn a bit about Los Gatos history is the downtown Los Gatos Historic Walking Tour.  Offered about once a year, the guide through the downtown and through the past benefits the Museums of Los Gatos. Please continue reading on the new home of Live in Los Gatos

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The Bacigalupi Family of Los Gatos - A Bit of Los Gatos History

We happen to live on Bacigalupi Drive in Los Gatos, a classmate of mine at Saratoga High School was a Bacigalupi and I have noticed that one of the old buildings in downtown Los Gatos is the Bacigalupi Building (it houses Mountain Charley's, I believe - it is in the La Canada or Hofstra block near the corner of Main and North Santa Cruz).  So I wondered, who were these people with the hard to  pronounce name? (I can say it, but I speak some Italian!)

The Bacigalupi Family - click to visit the Hooked on Los Gatos website and see a larger image and info on this familyThe Hooked on Los Gatos project includes a page with all the photos in their archives relating to various members of the Bacigalupi clan. Clicking on them leads to more info on each one.  Here I found information on James A. Bacigalupi, Sr

I was very impressed to learn that he was the first president of the Bank of Italy, and then worked with A.P. Giannini to form the Bank of America. (This photo is from approximately 1922. Please click on it to visit the Hooked on Los Gatos site, see a larger image and learn more about the family and the names of others in this image.)

As you probably know, the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake did a great deal of damage to many of the older, historic buildings in downtown Los Gatos.  The La Canada (Hofstra) block was no exception.  The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce reports on its "walking tour" page that after the quake, that block was restored by the Bacigalupi, Farwell, Brady and VanDalsem families, so we can thank them for their continued love of our town and its history. 

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Hooked on Los Gatos – Library and Museum History Project

Date: Apr. 1, 2010
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If you love the rich history of Los Gatos, or just want to learn more about it, the town's library and history museum have a joint project that you should know about: Hooked on Los Gatos - the Library and Museum History ProjectPlease continue reading on the new home of Live in Los Gatos.

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Light Rail Inching Closer to Los Gatos

Date: Jan. 20, 2010
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The San Jose Mercury News reports that light rail is inching forward towards a connection with Los Gatos.  The proposed station would be an extention of the Campbell line and be located near Winchester and 85 (close to Netflix).  The Valley Transportation Agency, or VTA, has been trying to move this forward for years and with the ongoing recession and budget issues, it's been a huge challenge.

This is such a case of "what is old shall become new again".  About 1900, there was a gentleman named Albert August Vollmer who wanted the Southern Pacific train to do a flag stop near his property, about 1.5 miles north of downtown Los Gatos, so that his daughter could take the train from there (rather than downtown Los Gatos) to downtown San Jose, where she worked.  The SP granted his wish and allowed him to name the stop.  He named it after his childhood pony back in Germany - gave it the name "Vasona".   Hence the name of the park.  This was later the junction of two rail lines, the other one heading north from there toward San Francisco.

Not long after, pubic transit of a lighter kind ran also throughout parts of Santa Clara County - this was the Peninsular Interurban,, which began in 1904,  something of a hybrid between a light rail and a trolly car. People took it from downtown San Jose to Alum Rock Park to picnic and enjoy the hot springs for the day, for instance.  One line connected Los Gatos and Saratoga.   There was a long bridge where Highway 9 now runs at the dip near La Hacienda and the intersection with Quito Road and Austin Way.  (It was called "The Long Bridge".) The line included Palo Alto and appears to have been centered in Saratoga.

Fast forward many years and all of the Peninsular Interurban gets removed b 1963.  Cars take over.  Fast forward some more and guess what?  By 2000 we are wishing we still had those systems in place, but not we must recreate them. We are back to installing mass transit! Let's hope we learned our lesson this time.


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Live in Los Gatos

A blog about Los Gatos real estate, homes, houses, condos, townhomes, housing market, neightborhoods, history, events, businesses, parks, schools, photos, issues, and lifestyle by Mary Pope-Handy, town resident, enthusiast and Realtor.

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Mary Pope-Handy

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214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Road
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